The UK government has launched a fierce attack on the VW group following the emissions scandal. The initial foul play based around the company’s decision to cheat, and the subsequent actions to fix the issues were the targets for the government’s vitriol. Ministers are currently weighing up whether to prosecute bosses at the company and force Volkswagen into compensating UK drivers affected by the scandal.
The company’s behaviour was labelled “unacceptable” following a Transport Committee’s Special report on the scandal. It was also judged that the VW’s “treatment of UK consumers has not been acceptable and that vehicle owners should be compensated for the inconvenience” and concluded that, “prosecuting authorities from across Europe are liaising and co-ordinating their investigations. The Department is engaged in this process.”
Despite not going into specific details of action that could possibly taken against the German car maker, it did go onto say, “The government will continue to fight for compensation for UK consumers and continue our work to ensure that Volkswagen’s serious action of cheating type approval tests is met with the appropriate consequences.
“The government has also made clear in its most recent engagement with VW that in relation to costs incurred by the taxpayer and proposed fixes for affected vehicles, respectively, financial reimbursement and warranties are matters of high and urgent priority.”
It added: “Prosecuting authorities from across Europe have met to discuss and coordinate their investigations. Officials have been part of those coordinating efforts and continue to monitor the progress of those investigations. This is a complex area as the wrongdoing by the multinational Volkswagen Group is likely to have taken place in various jurisdictions. We understand that investigations in Germany (where the Volkswagen Group is based and the relevant engines were developed) require the review and assessment of vast amounts of material. The government wants to ensure that the Volkswagen Group faces appropriate legal consequences for its manipulation of emissions tests and is continuing to consider how best to do this. We have not ruled out opening our own investigation.”
Volkswagen has been steadfast in its position that it doesn’t feel UK and European owners should be compensated due to the fact that the affected cars were fixed free of charge and that owners suffered no performance or efficiency losses. It also accused the EU legislation regarding emissions testing of being so vague that it could legitimately argue that it had not broken any rules. However, the UK government went on to say: “The government strongly agrees that the treatment of UK consumers has not been acceptable and that vehicle owners should be compensated for the inconvenience, uncertainty and worry caused by Volkswagen’s cheating as well as for any loss in the value of affected vehicles which may become apparent.
“We also find it unacceptable that Volkswagen has avoided this issue for so long and has failed to adequately engage with customers on this matter and respond to their valid concerns. Ministers have summoned Volkswagen UK to a further meeting in order to reiterate these views and remind Volkswagen that they expect the company to treat UK consumers fairly.
So far, Volkswagen has not responded to the UK governments comments.